How to navigate those “Home Alone” Holidays

The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook

(Putting an end to those awkward holidays!)

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
An edited reblog of a previously published article

ENOUGH with the questions from well-meaning others!

Whether we are alone by choice or circumstance, holidays can be, at best, awkward.

Found on: Lolsnaps

“Have any plans for the upcoming holiday?” can be asked at any moment – even by total strangers trying to be friendly in grocery lines.

ANY version of, “Not really,” is something they do NOT, actually, want to hear.

Nor is it something that most of us who are already feeling marooned are eager to utter aloud.

No Mom, s/he won’t be coming

As any single person who’s ever gone “HOME for the holidays” can probably tell you, being “unpartnered” during special family events can present a unique set of challenges, especially the first time.

It runs the gamut:

  • from feeling awkward, maybe a bit defensive about your [lack of] relationship status this particular holiday,
  • all the way to feeling that you must either “ruin everyone’s holiday with a display of pique” -or-
  • grit your teeth, grin and bear it as you attempt to find a way to politely field unintentionally rude inquiries about why you happen to be alone.

The Formerly Familied

Far too many individuals who are divorced, widowed, separated (or outliving their families and many of their friends) can find solo-holidays sad and depressing.

A friend of mine, an emotionally healthy, extremely self-reliant, empty-nest single parent says her married kids “make other plans” for major holidays — at the very least every other year.

She really doesn’t resent the reality that the kids have their own lives, hope to start their own family traditions, and deserve to feel unconflicted about making holiday plans that won’t always include her,  BUT . . .

She says that she can’t face cooking a holiday meal for one OR going to a restaurant alone when everyone but her seems to have somebody celebrating WITH them.

She also finds it unbearably depressing to fuff around in her pajamas and slippers ALL day, even though she feels like she is “all dressed up with no place to go” if she doesn’t.

Reaching out to help others?

Even singles who volunteer at soup kitchens and so on have to make it through at least a portion of the day totally alone, at a time that was once known for family get-togethers.

People who never drink anything stronger than root beer have confessed that the idea of becoming a regular at their town’s version of the Cheers bar crosses their minds more than a few times, just to have somewhere to go and a few people to talk to on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve.

Different ways to make it work . . .

Since I have spent most of the major holidays alone for many years now, I’m hoping that I will be able to help you look at things in ways you haven’t already thought of, tried and rejected.

In any case, I’m not planning to rehash the holiday survival tips already found all over the internet (but in case you have missed a few bloggy ideas, check out the articles under the Related Articles ’round the net heading in the links below the original post.)

Don’t forget that you can always check out the sidebar
for a reminder of how links work on this site, they’re subtle ==>

The Expectations Mismatch

Wikepedia: Norman Rockwell

Even those of us who love to shake things up relatively often tend to be traditionalists-at-heart where the major holidays are concerned. That tendency can make mood-management more difficult than it needs to be, however.

We are in danger of falling into a black and white thinking trap all too easily – then making ourselves and the holiday wrong if we aren’t able to reproduce every single element!

Make-wrong, by the way, is a term bandied about easily in the coaching community and, for the rest of you, it means exactly what you probably think it does.

Make-wrong is a particular view of the world and human interaction that appears to maintain that there is some single appropriate and proper way that things are to be handled and languaged (and that the person on the receiving end of any not-so-subtle comments is somehow NOT behaving appropriately, according to “the rules of the universe as absolutes in polite society.”)

It’s not always easy to put your finger on, but
most of us have been on the receiving end far too often!

What’s really sad is that, given enough exposure, most of us internalize the make-wrong to the extent that we begin to should all over ourselves!


[noun] the way something is supposed to occur “when things are functioning correctly,” regardless of appropriateness to the current situation or individual;

[verb] communicating a personal world-view as if it were an undisputed standard of behavior; covert, indirect and manipulative – used subconsciously when the communicator is unwilling to express his or her preferences in an open and observable fashion; designed to enforce compliance through shame without taking ownership of the dynamic, remaining unconscious as a protective mechanism

[internalized] an adopted standard that is not in alignment with a person’s true values.

[used unconsciously] a nasty habit of language that keeps life small and mean

©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, 1996-2016; from my upcoming ADD Coaching Glossary

Where the holidays are concerned, we can hardly be blamed for wanting to recreate that special glow we so fondly recall – but the instant it begins to slide over into SHOULD territory, we’re setting ourselves up for misery.

So what’s a poor Single to DO?

Well you could take a page from the fabulous Teagan Geneviene and host a virtual party.

Hop over to her Three Things Serial 1920s Party — either to join in on the fun or to peer through a virtual window to see what in the world I’m talking about!

There are a ton of very jolly “official” writers in attendance, but I’m sure a few bloggers have slipped in as well — so don’t feel like you must bring a link to a book you’ve published to be welcomed warmly.

I’ve actually moved the post date up on this article to give more of you a chance to party hearty.

As long as you make up your mind to communicate without dragging your misery along, virtual parties can be a great deal of fun – and you will likely increase the size of your virtual community quite a bit.

If that’s not your particular cup of tea, make sure you click to the rest of the article for some tips on shaking up the paradigm completely.  Continue to the remainder of the article, with the bulk of the tips, after the following description of . . .

The BEST Christmas present ever . . .

Are you struggling with life pragmatics that many others seem to take in stride?  Wouldn’t you like to stop trying again what you’ve already tried that hasn’t made much of a difference at all?  Gift YOURSELF something that will make you feel better than almost anything else you could ever buy – an investment in your LIFE.

If  you are looking for an amazing gift for someone else who is struggling – maybe even driving you a little bit crazy – consider buying them a seat in the next Group Coaching.

Even if private coaching is beyond your budget,
a few months of Group Coaching can make a HUGE difference in anybody’s experience of living.

No amount of free web-based information will ever replace personal attention from a skilled expert. Experienced support from a real-live human being who has spent the last 30 years studying Executive Functioning Disorders is the most valuable thing I have to offer.  And I’m practically giving it away right now.

Take me up on it

BE the secret Santa that gives the gift that really keeps on giving – a brand new, high-functioning LIFE.

Click HERE if you already know you want to
Sign Up for Group Coaching now

Not sure? Let me know you are interested in the comments section below and FOLLOW so that I will have an email address to contact you before class registration closes, or if a spot opens up subsequently. (at the top of the rightmost column, right above the spam counter).

For More Info: Click to the LinkList of the Group Coaching posts HERE

As the remainder of the original article concludes
(once you click the link below for the tips):

  • Don’t set yourself for a good hit of resentment and a miserable holiday time and when nobody is available.
  • Make sure you “set things up so that you get to win” — even if you spend most of your holidays alone in the future.

CLICK HERE for the original article to read the Single Person Holiday tips . . .

Comments are encouraged and eagerly awaited below OR under the original article – EVEN from Grinches and Humbugs – as long as you don’t make individual people wrong, and do your best to avoid the dreaded “should” word, I will approve all comers (link-spammers shot on sight, however).

© 2016, all rights reserved
Check bottom of Home/New to find out the “sharing rules”
(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)

As always, if you want notification of new articles in this Series – or any new posts on this blog – give your email address to the nice form on the top of the skinny column to the right. (You only have to do this once, so if you’ve already asked for notification about a prior series, you’re covered for this one too). STRICT No Spam Policy

IN ANY CASE, do stay tuned.
There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

Want to work directly with me? If you’d like some coaching help with anything that came up while you were reading this Series (one-on-one couples or group), click HERE for Brain-based Coaching with mgh, with a contact form at its end (or click the E-me link on the menubar at the top of every page). Fill out the form, submit, and an email SOS is on its way to me; we’ll schedule a call to talk about what you need. I’ll get back to you ASAP (accent on the “P”ossible!)

You might also be interested in some of the following articles
available right now – on this site and elsewhere.

For links in context: run your cursor over the article above and the dark grey links will turn dark red;
(subtle, so they don’t pull focus while you read, but you can find them to click when you’re ready for them)
— and check out the links to other Related Content in each of the articles themselves —

Related articles right here on
(in case you missed them above or below)

A Few LinkLists by Category (to articles here on

About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

49 Responses to How to navigate those “Home Alone” Holidays

  1. dgkaye says:

    Thanks for visiting my blog Madelyn, or may not have found yours. Now following! Love what you represent. 🙂 Happy New Year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: We ALL wish you a Merry Christmas! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  3. Pingback: The Single Person’s Holiday Playbook | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  4. Lizzi says:

    I’m really lucky to live in a family home of singles, so we’ll just spend time being alone together and all FOR each other. Thank goodness!

    LOVE your glossary of ‘should’ – that’s a word I often trip over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. There are so many other ways to express similar concepts of “doing what’s better” without heaping on shame.

      “Should” is a shut-down word – and it takes a great deal of attention to change the bad habit of using it unconsciously. Fortunately, it IS a habit – and habits can be changed.

      I love the idea of a family home of singles. It sounds warm and wonderful. I’d love to live in a house like that. Merry Christmas to ALL of you, Lizzi.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. reocochran says:

    I have too many choices among my family so I chose for 4 years in a row to go spend quiet moments with my Mom. This year my three grown children brought their children up to see Mom for Thanksgiving. This was to convince me they need me here where everyone lives. Mom seemed fine and my 2 brothers with one SIL will fill in for me. As I approach the holidays, I am more excited this year.
    I liked the idea of giving yourself something special or meaningful, Madelyn. hugs xo ~ Robin

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always end up giving myself a little something anyway – and it means more (and lasts longer) to spend money on memories, even in years where all I can afford is a nice breakfast where somebody else does the dishes!

      How wonderful that you have “too many choices” – when I was in New York that was my situation too. Here in Cincinnati, I’m lucky to have ONE choice! But as long as my pup and I are warm, dry and fed, I’m grateful. So many people don’t have even that.


  6. Scott Nagele says:

    Interesting. Before I got married, I spent many Christmases alone, but I worked retail then, so I enjoyed having a quiet day to myself. Now, it’s just the opposite: I work a peaceful job but spend Christmas in the chaos of overexcited children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A big city girl at heart, I have almost always preferred more than a bit of hustle and bustle in December – but have been forced to make friends with quieter/solo times out of necessity, since leaving NYC.

      It’s ironic, actually, in the “be careful what you wish for” manner. There were a few years when things were SO “over-peopled” that all I really wanted was solo peace and quiet so that nothing stood in the way of napping for days and days or listening to my own thoughts without anyone competing for my attention.

      I try to use that memory as a lesson – appreciate what you’ve got goin’ on right NOW!

      Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment – and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!


  7. Hi Madelyn. Thanks so very much for the shout-out! I hope you enjoyed my little 1920s soiree. It’s still going, so pop back in and leave as many links as you want.

    I’m in agreement with you about “should.” For years I’ve been saying that *should* is the most harmful word in the English language. Closely followed by *sweet*… I’ve openly told people how offensive “Sweet” is when they apply it to me… and they plow right through my protest. Others express their shock and incomprehension that I hate the term. But “She’s so sweet — let’s give her something important to do…” was never uttered in a board room. “She’s so sweet — wouldn’t she make a great executive,” said no one ever…

    Okay… I’ll leave my Julia Sugarbaker soapbox. Wishing you a wonderful week. Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well THIS sucks – I replied with no doubt more words than I needed, but it disappeared into the ether — and didn’t even approve your wonderful comment.

      FORTUNATELY, I drafted the beginning in a text file, so here ’tis at least part of it again:
      I’m in agreement with YOU about “sweet!” – In fact, in the American South, “Isn’t she sweet?” is a thinly veiled insult, as is “Bless her little heart” — both of which mean, essentially, “She’s a bit of an idiot but we’re pretending to say nice things about her.”

      EVEN when people clearly mean well, I’m a Julia Sugarbaker type of woman myself: anything diminutive – even nicknames for Madelyn – rankle. EVEN as a kid!

      The WordPress reblog function is not very ADD/EFD friendly; instead I do a lot of linking of “Related content” as my way of supporting the blogs of people I follow — especially those who “deserve” it because they support blogs other than their own – and/or like, comment or follow over here — especially the writers. In my experience you guys are amazing in your support of others.

      The idea of a virtual party was perfect for this post – so I was thrilled to be able to post it a bit early so I could add a shout out that also served as an example.

      Merry Christmas. I’ll stop by again to read any comments I missed and maybe leave another link or two. Don’t be a stranger.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No worries, Madelyn. The party is still there, if a little less exuberant.
        I’m sorry about the lost comment — that’s happened to me more than once. I know how frustrating it is. 🙄 🙂
        It was absolutely exhausting to create that post with so many links, and then again to proof and fine tune it… BUT it was very much worth the effort.
        I try to support and visit other blogs as much as I can… **And I don’t talk about this on my own blog** There’s just so little time with full-time work, looking for a job in a better climate (and godhelpme a better culture!), and looking for a home in a place where I might have a better chance at that job if I already lived there… (I’ve been trying to get a job elsewhere for 5 years. Trying hard, being flexible, willing to take less, do other work — and failing miserably.) So you get the idea… Minutes spent not working on that feel like a luxury. Time to get to the office.
        Have a terrific Tuesday. Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I truly get it – I can’t tell you how much time I spend linking (and formatting, and editing, and proofing – and that’s before I factor in visiting, commenting and responding).

          Your party was way over the top compared to anything I have ever posted – and THEN responding to all the comments. Whew! GOOD job.

          I also feel the time/roof-over-head/food-on-table challenge most days. It’s a struggle to find life balance – and you’d probably be one of the few who would understand what I’ve had to be willing to forgo.

          I get the *job* struggle too. With my sleep disorder, I’m rather limited in what kind of work for others I could do, and working for myself is . . . well, a LOT of work! It eats life whole. 🙂

          May 2017 be the year you find meaningful work that doesn’t feel like work!


  8. Why are you still single! Well, I’ve never been married. Nor have I been divorced. I have no kids. I’m not secretly a lesbian. I’m just fussy! What’s wrong with that? I’ve just committed to going home for 6 days. That will undoubtedly be 5 days too many to be isolated in a bedroom with my fur-baby and my laptop. I wasn’t going but I was guilted by family who told me they would not feel guilty if I didn’t go. I just could not win. At least I won’t be eating baked beans on toast, which I would never resort to and seen as the epitome of single girl home alone. See you on the other side!

    Liked by 2 people

    • WHY? hmmmm – and that is your business because ????? (I never know how to answer that ‘still’ single question, even when I KNOW they mean well, it always gets my hackles up).

      Try to enjoy yourself and your family this Christmas. I’m going with a colleague to her ex-husband’s for dinner on Christmas Day (long story – nice vibe there usually). So I’m sure there will be turkey and pumpkin pie, so I won’t be eating baked beans on [gluten free] toast either. LOL
      xx, mgh


  9. jac forsyth says:

    I’ve been thinking about his too. There is a passive nature to Christmas, we know the rules, we’ve been domesticated in the rituals of perceived normality and so of course it feels like a failure not to meet the criteria. And, as yet, there are no real alternative pathways out there in the mainstream of consciousness.
    So, what if being alone at Christmas was considered the pinnacle of human achievement? How would I relate to it then? What would I choose to do?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Lucy Brazier says:

    Fabulous article, my dear Madelyn! On Christmas Day I am having a casual, open-house arrangement for ‘those with nowhere better to be’. There will be food and drink and an eclectic mish-mash of people – the recently widowed and divorced, some German friends who are not going home for Christmas, elderly neighbours and anyone else who fancies a bit of company on 25th. I am perfectly happy with my own company but there are many who are not and as I love to cook (and throw a party!) this seemed like the thing to do. No one need go hungry or lonely if they can find their way to my house 🙂

    Wishing all your wonderful readers a super Christmas and New Year, however they spend it, and of course the biggest hugs and festive wishes to you, my dear friend. I shall be raising a glass to you on the day!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh how I wish I lived close enough to drop by with a bottle of bubbly!

      When I lived in NYC I usually hosted an “orphans” T-giving and Christmas – and a HUGE bring-a-friend deck the halls party. The only “rule” was that they needed to bring a candle – which we would BURN during the party, I told them, so go for cheap! The metaphor is that the space is lit by the people in the room – and just a bit darker for friends who couldn’t make it. (but really, I didn’t have to clean as stringently — lol — I actually put 25 watt bulbs in all the lights too!).

      Dress code was “festive – whatever that means to you” – so people came in everything from sweats to sequins. Much fun & great memories – and I hope to make enough friends here to maybe be able to do it again next year.

      As long as we are warm & dry, fed and healthy, and have at least the company of something live and furry, we are indeed blessed, however we spend Christmas.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lucy Brazier says:

        I wish you could pop along too! What fun that would be! Your Christmas parties sound wonderful – I do like the candle idea very much. Candles are always very festive, not to mention beautiful, and everyone and everything looks so much lovelier by candlelight! Also negating the need for fastidious cleaning is a huge bonus – if your parties are anything like mine, the place always looks like a bomb’s hit it the next morning anyway. But there is something quite wonderful about getting up in the morning and witnessing the aftermath of a party well enjoyed. To all those revellers, furry or not, I wish the happiest and healthiest of festivities, whatever that means to you!

        Liked by 1 person

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